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Supplying Beef to the U.S. is Destroying Nicaragua’s Indigenous Communities

October 27, 2020
One Green Planet

The Center for Investigative Reporting, in collaboration with PBS NewsHour, has uncovered serious land thefts and killings of Indigenous communities in Nicaragua to feed the demand for beef in the U.S.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. has faced massive meat shortages due to the swift spread of the virus among meat packers.

At the end of Sept. 2020, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents 250,000 U.S. meatpacking and food-processing workers, reported at least 122 meatpacking workers have died of COVID-19 and more than 18,000 had missed work because they were infected or potentially exposed.

In the spring of this year, large meat companies including JBS, Tyson Foods, and Smithfield Foods had to close their slaughterhouses after COVID-19 outbreaks. President Trump and meat industry leaders ordered the plants to stay open which only exacerbated the virus’s impact on the meat industry.

Imports of frozen beef are up nearly 20 percent since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, The Center for Investigative Reporting and PBS NewsHour reported. And Nicaragua has filled the gap, becoming the third-largest supplier of frozen beef to the U.S.

Nate Halverson of the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal spoke with Anuradha Mittal who runs the Oakland Institute, an independent policy think tank that investigates land thefts around the world.

“People are dying from violent land invasions, their lands taken away for cattle ranching, cattle, which then turns into beef, which comes into United States. Yes, people are being killed,” Mittal said in an interview with Halverson.

Specifically, Indigenous communities are being targeted by cattle ranchers in the small Central American nation.

According to a United Nations report, dozens of armed men stormed an Indigenous village in northeast Nicaragua in January, killing four people in the Mayangna community, injuring two others, and burning down 16 homes.